Nationalism even extends to fish now, apparently

Our Parliament has a reputation as being one of the oldest and best in the world. Every time I walk through the Palace of Westminster, I am reminded of who has walked these same corridors.

Shirley Wiliams, Barbara Castle, William Wilberforce talking about abolishing slavery, Lloyd George bringing forward the People’s Budget, Aneurin Bevan bringing in the legislation that set up the NHS.

All these great things, over centuries.

In 200 years time, I doubt they’ll be talking about the Day the Fish Smiled.

It was Business Questions. The SNP’s Tommy Sheppard raised the crisis in our fishing industry caused by the Government. But of course, he couldn’t just leave it there. He had to use it as a proxy to ask to have a Commons debate on Scottish independence. I mean, the industry is on its knees. One of its key players, Loch Fyne, is talking about only being able to last another week. And all because the Government first of all pursued Brexit, did so in such a cack-handed manner that the decisions were only made about how the seafood industry would operate on Christmas bloody Eve with a week to go and then didn’t get its finger out to produce the relevant paperwork. This level of incompetence is pretty much standard practice for this lot.

It’s infuriating that the SNP constantly let the Tories off the hook by turning the question to independence. Keep it on the subject. Make them own the mess that they have made. Nope.

So what should have been an exchange on a crisis of the Tories’ making ended like this.

The fishing issue was covered a moment ago by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman should have tuned into that debate, rather than bringing it up at business questions, but the Government are tackling this issue and dealing with it as quickly as possible. The key is that we have our fish back: they are now British fish, and they are better and happier fish for it.

Not exactly edifying, is it?

Earlier, the grown-ups were present. Our Alistair Carmichael  took the Government’s actions to pieces in an urgent question, laying bare the damage that they had done.

Boris Johnson had hinted at compensation yesterday, and his ministers have since spent their time trying to row back from that.

Making life difficult for the people who feed us is never sensible.

The BBC’s Scottish Business  Editor Douglas Fraser suggested tonight that fish was just the start of the problems for our food industry – meat, lamb and dairy are going to run into big barriers into their order continental markets.

If only someone had predicted this mess.

Oh wait. They did. Here’s Nick Clegg’s Brexit briefing from back in October 2016, which set out all the tariff and non tariff barriers that could await our food and drink industry.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • John Marriott 15th Jan '21 - 8:36am

    Perhaps “British” fish were “happier” in the 18th Century, Mr Mogg. However, in most centuries, if I were a fish and had a modicum of sentient feeling, I don’t think I’d actually be happy to see a trawler from any country heading my way!

    Seriously though, given that our fishing industry, following the refusal of our government, unlike the EEC governments with similar industries, to assist in the rebuilding of our fleet when the CFP was negotiated back when, decided to flog off much of its quotas to its competitors, what else did they expect? Is it time to smell the coffee yet?

  • John Marriott 15th Jan '21 - 8:39am

    PS. I seem to recall that, in my youth, the Dandy or Beano used to feature a cartoon character called ‘Useless Eustace”. How prescient of the editors!

  • John Marriott 15th Jan '21 - 8:46am

    PPS Sorry, just googled him and he was in The Daily Mirror. I need to get out more before I get the dreaded ‘Flood Warning’!

  • Richard Underhill. 15th Jan '21 - 10:05am

    A Union jack has been placed on Rockall by the Royal Navy, but very little has been done about the fishing rights. This is not a new story, Check with the Ministry of Defence. The island is uninhabited. The weather can be rough. The first Union flag washed away and needed to be replaced.

  • ………….”It’s infuriating that the SNP constantly let the Tories off the hook by turning the question to independence. Keep it on the subject. Make them own the mess that they have made. Nope.”………..

    Caron, it is you who are obsessing over the SNP’s actions…They, consistently, have pointed out that an independent Scotland would be a part of the EU and the very restrictions you deplore would not apply..

    As for, “Making life difficult for the people who feed us is never sensible.”..The problem arises when they are ‘feeding the EU’ rather than the ‘us’ in the UK..Live lobsters, langoustines, etc. carry a premium when sold to the Continent rather than the UK.. The cod/haddock so beloved by our ‘chippies’ are not a major part of the UK inshore trawler catch; their livelihood depends on the overseas market which makes the industy’s almost total support for Brexit a mystery..

  • In December I heard that Scottish fishermen were planning to off load their catches in Denmark, because they would get a better price there than at Peterhead fish market after our departure from the Single Market.
    With the reported 80% drop in fish prices at the said market, it looks like this could become reality.
    So much for “British” fish, as if fish knew where national boundaries were in the middle of the North Sea, or elsewhere!

  • Helen Dudden 15th Jan '21 - 11:23am

    Is it true good and edible food is being left to rot? Fish, is a good balanced meal. I find it difficult to understand the reasoning why?
    Mr. Rees Mogg, is lucky that he does not have to live in the real world.
    We will compensate, that’s all I hear now. Actually, this compensation is coming out of the Public Purse.
    The NHS goes from one catastrophe to another, no planning here. Just wait until it happens.
    Our borders, at last, they understand.
    People trafficking, it’s illegal and is it true that 34 men, are sharing one shower and one toilet. To me that seems far from being hygienic.
    I’m far from proud of the Government performance in Westminster.

  • @Expats – I know you are very sympathetic to the idea of Scottish nationalism, and eager to give the SNP the benefit of the doubt at every turn, but when you say “They, consistently, have pointed out that an independent Scotland would be a part of the EU and the very restrictions you deplore would not apply..” you are repeating the SNP’s equivalent of £350million for the NHS lie.

    The SNP keep claiming that Scottish independence equates to Scotland being in the EU, but that is simply not true. An independent Scotland does not meet the criteria to join the EU and won’t for many years. Any politician who gives the impression that it would be easy is lying to you, and we should not support SNP lies about the “ease and benefits” of Scexit any more than we supported the Tory lies about the “ease and benefits” Brexit.

    And even if Scexit were to be easy, or iScot didn’t have a starting point of a massive deficit, or if the EU would change their rules just for us – you are still assuming that the party that didn’t care if Scottish independence meant an end to EU membership, so long as it achieved their primary goal of division from the rest of the UK, were ever genuinely pro-EU. The SNP has a long history of Euroscepticism, and while that may have genuinely diminished now they’ve seen how damaging Brexit it, we are still talking about a lot of people who joined the party when it was anti-EU.

    We need to hold the Tories to account for misleading the nation on the consequences of Brexit, and we should be able to do that without helping the SNP use this as yet another opportunity to mislead us on the consequences of Scexit.

  • Sue Sutherland 15th Jan '21 - 3:14pm

    John Marriott, I think the cartoon character you are searching for must be Lord Snooty. The resemblance is astonishing and has already been the subject of comment in the media.

  • As a former Lib Dem Councillor whose constituency included the fishing port of Eyemouth it was good to see Alistair following up the issue first raised on Wednesday lunchtime at Prime Minister’s Questions by Ian Blackford. A bit of team work and co-operation between Parties is always welcome – provided it achieves good and positive outcomes.

    From what I hear the Tory M.P. for the Borders may be looking for a new job next time round.

  • Fiona, I don’t think the SNP is perfect, far from; but compared to Westminster ( even after the Brexit/Covid/corruption problems the Conservatives still have commanding lead in the polls) and a probable long lasting Tory government, they are ‘saints’..

    As for not wanting/meeting EU crtieria,,,from ‘The New European’

    “As a developed democracy, Scotland should meet most of the EU’s baseline demands, the Copenhagen criteria for accession: an ability to demonstrate stable governance; protection for human rights; a market economy; and the ability to adhere to the EU’s political and economic aims. It should also quickly meet the requirements of the acquis – Europe’s common rights and obligations that make up the body of EU law – in areas that are devolved to member states. However huge swathes of the acquis relate to matters carried out at UK level.

    Some sceptics have suggested Scotland’s deficit and a perceived reluctance to join the Euro would be problematic. But new members are required only to commit to working towards monetary union and a deficit of below 3%, and there is no set timetable. Croatia, the last country to join, did so in 2013 with a deficit of 5.3%, which it has since reduced.”

    However, “An independent Scotland would need a central bank, a competition regulator and other institutions,” “All those things would have to be set up and that would take time.”
    But. an independent Scotland would have a sympathetic EU who. after’England’s Brexit’, would give her that time…

    LbDems have a strange idea of fairness when a re-run, or even the overturning, of the ‘Brexit’ vote was policy but even another Scottish referendum is deemed ‘undemocratic’..

    Finally, this party should accept that Scotland’s independence is no longer an ‘if’ it’s a ‘when’…

  • What concerns me is that the Scottish fishing industry’s troubles will only harden the case for independence. Either this Conservative administration does not care if this happens or are so incompetent that it should advise its supporters to vote for another Party. As an Englishman I can only apologise to the Scottish people for this state of affairs.

  • Helen Dudden 17th Jan '21 - 10:19am

    Lord Snooty was from a different era. I don’t think that exists as such anymore.
    Applying that principal to hungry children, or there families is from a time when master and servant were the order of things.
    The NHS does need some TLC and I believe a brighter future, not top heavy and more comfortable with its expectations.
    Cancer patients need treatment, as with other serious conditions. I know personally the difficulties of more complex dental problems. Dentist’s are in short supply since the cut backs of the Conservatives.
    It’s not just giving food, it’s where possible, providing the opportunity for a better future. Better homes, that have affordable heating, dry and healthy. Better education for those who struggle. Having worked in the education sector, not all children, can or wish to get a degree. But, we need to reach where possible the best outcome.

  • @Expats. The Tories are awful. We need electoral reform for Westminster. Those are reasons for reform of Westminster elections – not an excuse to throw the Scottish people into mass austerity. It would also improve things for everyone in the UK.

    In 2013, Croatia has its own currency, and it was at a time when most European nations were running a post-financial crash deficit in excess of the 3% and many, including the UK. According to a quick internet search, the UK’s deficit was 7.4% for the financial year ending March 2013. Another search tells me that Croatia had their deficit down to 0.4% in 2019. Meanwhile, Scotland’s remained higher, and we would need a credible plan for reducing it before meeting that part of the economic requirements.

    There’s no way the EU would accept a new member that is beholden on the currency of a non-EU member. In short, Scotland could no longer be using the pound. So we’d need a proposal to build reserves to create our own central bank. An ‘independent’ Scotland that is still using the pound would be subject to policy decisions made by the UK Treasury. At least as part of the UK, we currently have some influence over those decisions. It’s like the UK continuing to be influenced by EU law we no longer influence.

    If you think the EU would be happy for Scotland to pinky promise to reduce the deficit in the next ten years or so, allowing us to eventually join the EU – do you know how we’d achieve it? How do you propose we make up for the loss of budget equivalent to the entire Scottish NHS every year?

    How much public money do you think we’d need to put aside in order to fund a central bank? Do you propose to do that via tax hike and/or cuts to public services? Or will it be the much lauded ‘growth’ that will solve everything?

    How do you think placing new trade barriers between Scotland and our biggest trading partners (the rest of the UK) will impact on business and the ability of a new government to raise all of those extra taxes?

    The best way for Scotland to be part of the EU without massive austerity, is for us to stay part of the UK, and to use political pressure for the whole of the UK to have better trade deals and to eventually re-join.

  • Helen Dudden 17th Jan ’21 – 10:19am…………It’s not just giving food, it’s where possible, providing the opportunity for a better future. Better homes, that have affordable heating, dry and healthy. Better education for those who struggle. Having worked in the education sector, not all children, can or wish to get a degree. But, we need to reach where possible the best outcome…………

    I agree! This country is in a crisis not seen since WW2..As then, what is needed is an opposition united against the ‘Conservative Ethic’; sadly, I see neither a Beveridge nor an Atlee on the political scene..

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